- On the relation between ecosystem services, intrinsic value, existence value and economic valuation
- Ecological Economics
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Various attempts have been made to amalgamate the concepts of intrinsic value and ecosystem services, often with a stop-over at the economic concept of existence value. These attempts are based on a confusion of concepts, however. In this article, two types of non-use values are distinguished: warm glow value, related to the satisfaction people may derive from altruism towards nature, and existence value, related to the satisfaction people may derive from the mere knowledge that nature exists and originating in the human need for self-transcendence. As benefits to humans, warm glow and existence values can be considered ecosystem services. Neither warm glow value nor existence value represents benefits to nature itself, however. Intrinsic value lies outside the scope of the wide palette of ecosystem services.
Although the concept of ecosystem services does not cover benefits to nature and the intrinsic value of such benefits, intrinsic value is not necessarily incompatible with economic valuation. Although a deontological ethics does not allow economic valuation of nature as an end in itself, consequentialism does. In consequentialism, however, intrinsic value is not attributed to nature itself, but to benefits to nature. These benefits can be economically valued on the basis of benefit transfer.
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